At his eponymous food shops, London chef Yotam Ottolenghi is known for taking an innovative approach to vegetable cookery. In his new cookbook, Plenty, the chef shares 120 recipes that showcase his knack for combining basic ingredients and unexpected elements within one dish. Witness this deceptively simple salad, which pairs boiled spring potatoes with a sprightly pesto and a fashionable flourish: diminutive quail eggs. If you can't find quail eggs, substitute a few chopped hard-boiled chicken eggs. Either way, you'll have a vegetarian side dish with plenty of spring picnic potential.
Royal Potato Salad
Recipe adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
12 quail eggs
1¾ pounds small yellow new potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus chopped parsley for garnish
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, blanched
⅓ cup mint leaves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a medium saucepan, cover the quail eggs with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the eggs for 3 minutes for hard-boiled eggs (or about 30 seconds for soft-boiled eggs). Run the eggs under cold water until cool, then peel and set aside.
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are soft but not falling apart, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine the basil with the parsley, Parmesan, pine nuts and garlic and blend until combined. Add the olive oil and pulse until a runny pesto forms. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl.
4. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half as soon as they're cool enough to touch. (They will absorb more flavor when they're hot.) Toss the potatoes with the pesto, peas, mint and vinegar until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Cut the eggs in half and gently fold them into the salad. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately or at room temperature.